MISSOULA, Mont. – Sacramento State overcame an early 11-point deficit on the road at Montana Saturday, but ultimately came up short, falling 75-67 to the Grizzlies.
Saturday's road meeting between the Hornets and the Grizzlies was the final regular season contest for both teams. Sacramento State wraps the regular season with a 10-18 overall record, including a 6-14 finish in league play. Montana improved to 14-15 overall and 9-11 in the Big Sky.
With all games final and the regular season official wrapped, the Hornets head next to the Big Sky Conference Tournament, where they will be the nine seed. Their tournament run begins with a Monday afternoon matchup against the number eight seeded Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at 2:30 pm MT.
Saturday's game was back and forth, especially in the first half. Montana jumped out to an early 11-point leading, closing the first quarter up 22-11 as the Hornets made just five shots compared to Montana's 11.
The Hornets rallied back in a furious way in the second quarter, however, outscoring the Grizzlies, 21-10, to even the score, 32-32. Sacramento State held Montana to just 20.0% (3-15) shooting in the second quarter while they shot 46.7% (7-15).
Unfortunately, the momentum of the second quarter didn't translate completely into the second half as Montana opened the third quarter with a 13-5 run to put distance between them and the Hornets. Sacramento State threatened late in the fourth quarter, but never closed the gap to fewer than six points the rest of the way.
Hannah Friend led the Hornets in scoring for the 20th time this season, putting up 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting. Friend was 7-for-8 from the free throw line and added five rebounds, two assists, and three steals to her stat line Saturday.
Friend closes the regular season averaging 19.1 points per game, currently the sixth-highest single seasons coring average in program history. She enters the postseason tournament with 535 points this year, making her just the second player in program history with back-to-back seasons of 500+ points.
Julynne Da Silva Sa finished with a career-best 11 points against the Grizzlies. The junior forward set career-highs in points, field goals (5), field goal attempts (8), and minutes (20).
Gabi Bade also finished in double-digits for the Hornets, scoring 11 on 4-of-9 shooting. Seven of Bade's points came in the fourth quarter as the Hornets attempted to climb back into the game. She had three assists and three rebounds, as well.
Overall, Sacramento State shot 44.2% (23-52) on Saturday against the Grizzlies. They were 6-for-18 (33.3%) from three but just 15-for-22 (68.2%) from the free throw line.
Both teams had four blocks and six steals, but Montana won the turnover battle, 13-7, while also out-assisting the Hornets, 15-11.
Sacramento State has shot above 40% in two of their last three games, but have been unable to pick up the win despite some of their better shooting performances of the season.
The schedule continues for Sacramento State on Monday, March 11 as they will open the Big Sky Women's Basketball Conference Tournament with a 2:30 pm MT matchup with Northern Arizona.
All 11 teams from the Big Sky will participate in the tournament, with seeds 6-11 playing Monday. The top five teams all receive a first round bye and will start play on Tuesday, March 12.
Complete details on the Big Sky Conference Tournament are available online at BigSkyConf.com. The latest on Sacramento State and its postseason schedule can be found online at HornetSports.com.